Vikings superstar defensive end Danielle Hunter was eligible to come off of injured reserve this week. He was placed on IR prior to the season, meaning he would miss at least three weeks. It's now Week 4.
However, NFL Network reported last Sunday that Hunter was likely to remain on IR for a while with a herniated disc in his neck. Tom Pelissero tweeted that "optimism [is] still high that he’s back this season," which seemed to indicate this could be a prolonged absence.
Unsurprisingly, Hunter wasn't spotted at Vikings practice this week. He generated some attention on social media by posting an Instagram story from Times Square in New York City on Thursday. As it turns out, Hunter was in New York to visit a doctor and get a second opinion on his injury. Mike Zimmer confirmed as much on Friday.
Hunter went to Hospital for Special Surgery, run by Giants team doctor Scott Rodeo, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Apparently, Hunter received a recommendation that he sit out for the remainder of the season.
Hunter took to Twitter to respond to Tomasson's report:
Courtney Cronin of ESPN has reported that the injury is a "cervical spine disc herniation." The recovery time and pain level for that injury tends to vary, so it's difficult to know whether Hunter could return mid-season or not. This is clearly something that could potentially keep Hunter out for the rest of the year, especially if the Vikings continue to lose and decide it's not worth it to have him return to action.
Zimmer, as he is wont to do, declined to give any details on Hunter's status on Friday.
In Hunter's absence, the Vikings have utilized a defensive end rotation of Yannick Ngakoue, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jalyn Holmes, and rookie D.J. Wonnum.
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